A teacher sued her school district, claiming that it discriminated against her and retaliated when she complained about the discrimination. The teacher originally filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, alleging that she was subject to workplace discrimination and a hostile work environment. That complaint led to a lawsuit that was dismissed. One week later, the teacher filed a second complaint with the EEOC. In that complaint, she made the same claims but added facts that described the retaliation she claimed to have suffered after filing her first complaint. She ultimately filed a lawsuit regarding the second complaint, which was dismissed in district court because, among other reasons, the teacher could not prove that the school district took any adverse employment action against her. The teacher appealed the dismissal to the court of appeals.
The court of appeals noted that the teacher had been employed by the district since 1971 and was still employed there at the time the lawsuit was filed. Her lawsuit alleged that although she did not have direct evidence that she had been retaliated against, she had suffered negative employment actions after filing her complaint. For example, she allegedly had been placed on a Teacher in Need of Assistance plan for reasons that were fabricated and she had received a summative appraisal that same year that noted that she was on a TINA. That summer, she requested a letter of recommendation from her principal, but claimed she received no response. She also filed a grievance to request that the TINA plan be removed from her file.
It was undisputed that the teacher was engaging in protected conduct when she filed her complaints with the EEOC. The issue being examined by the court of appeals was whether she suffered an adverse employment action and, if so, whether that action was the result of her having filed the complaint. The court of appeals concluded that the teacher did not suffer any adverse employment action because the actions taken by the district did not result in a loss of job responsibilities, and the district did not transfer or demote the teacher. Additionally, her title, hours, salary and benefits did not change. Finally, the court held that she could not prove that the TINA was the result of her having filed the lawsuit because she was placed on the TINA plan 19 months later. The court of appeals upheld the decision of the district court and dismissed the lawsuit.
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